On Dec. 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX declared in his Papal BullIneffabilis Deus the Immaculate Conception Dogma, as follows:
The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin.
To understand Mary’s privilege better, we should know what original sin is and its effect on men. On account of the sin of Adam, we his descendants, come into the world with original sin, that is, deprived of sanctifying grace; our understanding is weakened, our will inclined to evil, and we become subject to suffering, disease and death. Baptism cleanses man from original sin and through it, we receive for the first time the divine life of sanctifying grace. Baptism, however, does not restore the preternatural gifts which were lost for us by Adam: freedom from suffering and death, from ignorance, and inordinate inclination of passion.
Since Adam, only one human being (besides Christ) has possessed a perfectly balanced human nature: the Blessed Mother. Because Mary was destined to be the Mother of the Son of God, and because it was repugnant that God should have any contact, however indirect, with sin, Mary was preserved from the very first moment of her existence from the spiritual darkness of original sin. Therefore, from the very instant of her conception in the womb of her mother Anna, Mary was in union with God, her soul was flooded with His love, she was in the state of sanctifying grace.
(Sources: Catechism of Catholic Doctrine by Alfredo S. Reyes and The Faith Explained by Leo J. Trese)
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